You may remember that in early January I (Helen) posted a book review of the tremendously influential book Half the Sky. This book walks through some of the greatest issues facing women around the world, including trafficking, lack of educational opportunities, health care, poverty, and general gender inequality, and also suggests some solutions. The symptoms of gender inequality are varied, but there are ways we can take action. Of course, as a Christian, I know that the only way we can truly see an end to gender inequality is through the transformation of nations that comes through knowing Jesus, but there are many ways in which we can show the love of Christ to women around the world.
This morning, Michael and I led a “Prayer for the Nations” time at YWAM Turner Valley. Every Thursday morning our campus spends forty-five minutes to an hour, praying for various nations, people groups, and issues addressing the church. Michael and I focused on gender inequality. We used a lot of information from the book Half the Sky, and showed clips from the documentary developed in response to the popularity of that book. We focused specifically on three issues: education for girls, business opportunities for women in the developing world, and women’s healthcare. In this short blog series I’m calling “And…Action,” I’d like to address the issue of education for girls, and encourage you to pray into this issue. There will be two future posts that highlight prayer and action points for economic opportunities for women, and women’s healthcare.
Education is obviously not just an issue for girls; there are children all over the world who do not go to school for one reason or another. In many places in the world, however, girls are less likely to go to school than boys. The reasons for this are varied: parents keep their girls at home so they can look after siblings and attend to household concerns. Boys are sent to school because they are seen as breadwinners, and families consider it an investment for their males to receive an education. Girls are not considered breadwinners, so the investment in their education is not considered as valuable. This thinking is rooted in the devaluing of girls.
Education not only gives a girl the opportunity to be raised out of poverty, it is a catalyst for change in her life, the life of her family, and in her community. The following clip is from Half the Sky, where actress Gabrielle Union goes to Vietnam with Nicholas Kristof (journalist and co-author of the book Half the Sky), and reflects on her experience getting to know young teenage girls getting an education through the work of an organization called Room to Read.
Here are a few ways you can pray into the issue of girls’ education:
- Pray for Christian education to be made available to girls around the world, and that Christian organizations and missionaries would encourage communities to consider the value of educating their girls.
- Pray that Christian families would set an example of valuing their daughters as equal to their sons, through sending them to school and giving them equal opportunities to receive an education.
- Pray for the transformation that only Christ can bring – the transformation of culture that would show all that both girls and boys are made in the image of God, and deserve equal treatment.
It’s not enough for us to just learn about the issues – we are called to action. We are called to be doers of the Word (James 1:22-25), and the Word tells us that we are to love our neighbors (Mark 12:30-31). Here are some ways you can take action in the issue of education for girls:
- Consider giving to or fundraising for an organization that targets education for girls. One such organization is Room to Read. Room to Read focuses specifically on literacy and gender equality in education, and you can direct giving towards education for girls. Room to Read works in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania.
- If you are considering monthly sponsorship of a child through an organization such as World Vision or Compassion, consider selecting a girl as a recipient. Michael and I had the great pleasure of meeting a young woman in Thailand who was a “Compassion kid,” and she, along with several of her male friends, are receiving excellent post-secondary education because of the assistance of Compassion.
- Educate yourself. Find out more about the issues facing women and girls through reading Half the Sky, through watching the documentary, or through dedicating a month to interceding for those who are victims of gender inequality. A Voice for the Voiceless highlights 26 ways you can pray for the marginalized around the world; many of their prayer suggestions target praying for women and children.